Waller’s Raid, 13 January 1942

Snow was falling on Lowestoft on 13th January, 1942 when at 4.20pm in the afternoon the air raid sirens sounded the alert. Seven minutes later a lone Dornier Do 217, bearing the Holzammer (“Mallet”) insignia of Luftwaffe’s 9/KG.2 unit and piloted by Oberleutnant Ernst Walbaum, swept low over the town centre. Following the course of London Road North it dropped four high explosive bombs which fell into the shopping centre. The effect was devastating and in a few seconds a row of shops and buildings were reduced to rubble and many more were damaged by blast.

Twelve buildings, Nos. 86 to 108 on the east side of London Road were totally destroyed, and many more on the opposite of the road and in the immediate vicinity were badly damaged. Seventy-one people, civilians and service personnel alike, were killed and the body of one victim was never found. The shops and businesses hit and destroyed were Aldertons (Footwear) Ltd.; Morlings Music Shop; Trueform Boot Company Ltd.; J. Hepworth & Sons, Outfitters (with five apartments above in one of which was located the Dental Practice of Peter Walter Davis), Chipperfields Hardware Store in The Marina at the rear of No. 100, Fifty Shilling Tailors Ltd., Boots the Chemist and shopping arcade, W. B. Cooper, Ltd., China Dealer, Eve Brown Gowns, Bonsall’s the Jewellers, R. Waller & Sons restaurant and grocery.

Many of the victims that were killed were in Waller’s Restaurant at the time and this raid, the worst raid of the war, has entered into the annals of Lowestoft’s history as “The Waller’s Raid”.

Map of the damage caused by the Waller’s Raid

The ages of those killed ranged from two years to seventy years and some bodies were not recovered for over two days despite rescue teams working through the night under specially constructed arc-lamps.

Amongst the dead were Dorothy and Ernest Bonsall, proprietors of the jewellery shop and Ernest Morling, owner of the music shop. Ironically, Morling’s previous shop situated further north on London Road had been bombed out less than a year earlier, and his private house in Old Nelson Street, Lowestoft had also been bombed!

Other victims included Mrs. Emma Beard aged 52, her daughter, Edith Paul aged 27 and grandson, David Paul aged 2, who were in a shop (probably Eve Brown Gowns) buying mourning attire to wear at the funeral of Mrs. Beard’s husband who had died three days earlier. All four family members were buried together in Lowestoft cemetery six days later.

In Davis’ dental surgery above Hepworths at No. 102, Mr. Davis, aged 44, was himself killed together with 43 year old George Gayfer and his 24 years old son, Leslie Gayfer. Mr. Gayfer was employed there as a Dental Mechanic and his son was training to be the same. Also in the surgery and killed with them was a patient, 14 year old Ruby Copping of Lowestoft and a Dental Traveller, 50 year old Wilfred Wardill from Luton.

Alfred Ernest Slater, the 50 year old Manager of Fifty Shilling Tailors was also killed, but he died shielding the body of his 17 year old assistant, Beryl Bunn who was rescued with injuries to her legs. Mr. Slater was killed by the rubble and debris that fell on top of him.

Twenty of the seventy victims were service personnel. Seventeen from the Royal Navy (three of whom were WRNS) and three soldiers from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.

Among the WRNS who were killed was a local girl, Leading Wren Laura Beatrice Bessant,  the daughter of Robert and Florence of 263 Raglan Street. She was buried along side her Royal Navy colleagues in Lowestoft Cemetery on 19th January.

As well as those killed 116 people were injured, many seriously. Rescuers told the lightly injured to make their own way to the First Aid Post of The Royal Naval Patrol Service Headquarters, HMS EUROPA, in Sparrow’s Nest park half a mile or so to the north.

Three Lowestoft men, George Arthur Read, William Bernard Eade and Claude Edward Smith, part of No. 2 (North) Rescue Team, were later awarded the British Empire Medal for their “endurance and initiative” throughout the rescue operation over the next few days and nights.

Another hero was Private John Scott of the 7th Battalion (TA), The Border Regiment who was awarded the George Medal for “his conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner”.

In memoriam

Civilians

Dora Elizabeth ALDRED Age 14 2 Princes Road, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, Daughter of Alfred F. & Alice Aldred.
Winifred Arabella BAKER Age 27 4 Gisleham Cottages, Carlton Colville Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant
Emma BEARD Age 52 8 Queens Road, Lowestoft Widow, Probably killed at No.94, Eve Brown Gowns
Dorothy Mary BONSALL Age 42 “Glenesk”, Beccles Road, Oulton Broad Both killed at No. 92 in their Jewellers Shop
Ernest BONSALL Age 63
Agnes Victoria BULLARD Age 40 20 Ipswich Road, Lowestoft Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s Restaurant
Agnes Joyce BUTCHER Age 15 183 St. Peter’s Street, Lowestoft Daughter of William & Ethel S. Butcher
Daisy Alice CONSTANCE Age 28 9 Coronation Terrace, Pakefield Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s Restaurant
Ruby Irene COPPING Age 24 173 London Road North, Lowestoft Dental patient, killed at No. 102 London Rd North
Dorothy Rose CRISPIN Age 35 1 Bixley Road, Lowestoft Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.- unmarried
Mary Emma CROSS Age 19 Council House, Flixton Nr. Lowestoft Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.
Percy Walter DAVIS Age 44 “Bramley”, Normanston Drive, Lowestoft Dentist, killed at No. 102 London Road North.
Megan Barbara EDMONDS Age 18 67 Lorne Park Road, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, Daughter of William & Gladys Edmonds
Lucy Lillian FLEMING Age 18 24 Nile Road, Gorleston Shop Assistant, daughter of William & Helen Fleming
Lucy Evelyn FREDERICK Age 48 15 StationRoad, Beccles. Catering Manager, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.
Laura Alice GALL Age 52 63 Corton Road, Lowestoft School Mistress, single
Maurice GARROD Age 17 Tintern House, Chapel Street, Lowestoft Radio Engineer, killed at Morlings, No. 106
George Birkwood GAYFER Age 43 74 Long Road Lowestoft Dental Mechanic, killed at No. 102 London Rd North
Leslie Birkwood GAYFER Age 14 Trainee Dental Mechanic, son of George Gayfer
Lilian Beatrice GEORGE Age 57 The Bungalows, London Road, Wangford Shop Assistant, probably killed at Hepworths No. 102
Oliver GOLDING Age 50 82 Lowestoft Road, Carlton Colville Shop Assistant, Killed at Waller’s Grocery, Nos 86/88.
Susie Dorothea HAMBLY Age 48 108, Clapham Road, Lowestoft Housewife, Wife of Bertie J. Hambly
Iris May HOOD Age 16 27 St. Margaret’s Plain, Lowestoft Typist, Daughter of Victor & Winifred Hood.
Doris Betty HOWE Age 17 6 Fir Lane, Lowestoft Cashier at Waller’s Restaurant (body never found)
Margery Gertrude KERRISON Age 38 “Pauline”, Long Lane, Corton Body not found. Killed at Waller’s.
Nora Kathleen LACON Age 47 Flat 2, Kingsley House, Lowestoft Chemist, killed at Morlings, No. 106 – unmarried
Edith Ruby LAMBERT Age 27 1 Compass Street, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, killed at Morlings, No.106 – unmarried
Ellen Eliza MILLS Age 67 303 Victoria Road, Oulton Broad Widow of George Mills.
Mildred Jenny MILLS Age 58 “West Leigh”, Kirkley Park Road Housewife, Wife of Arthur E. Mills.
Ethel May MOORE Age 23 123 Beccles Road, Oulton Broad Shop Assistant, – unmarried
Audrey May MORGAN Age 34 75 Beccles Road, Oulton Broad Wife of Robert Morgan, Pte K.O.S.B.
Ernest Jabez MORLING Age 70 45 Gunton Drive, Lowestoft Killed in his shop, No.106.
David Stephen PAUL Age 2 96 Somerton Avenue, Lowestoft killed at No. 94 with mother & grandmother
Edith Lucy PAUL Age 27 Mother of Paul, killed at No. 94 – married
Gertrude Annie PAYNTER Age 57 10 Delamere Road, Ealing Common Outfitter’s Agent, widow
Elsie Thelma PETHERICK Age 19 Lilac Cottage, Wenhaston Head Waitress, killed at Waller’s, unmarried
Emily Sarah PINKNEY Age 51 36 Sycamore Avenue, Oulton Broad Supervisor at Rist’s Wireless& Cables, widow.
John Armitage ROBERTSON Age 39 “Whitethorns”, Romany Road, O. B. Air Observer, killed at Waller’s
Alfred Ernest SLATER Age 46 78 Alexander Road, Lowestoft. Shop Manager, killed at Fifty Shilling Tailors, No. 100
Dorothy Elsie SNELLING Age 30 1 Hawes Place, Hall Road, Norwich Married woman. Wife of William G. Snelling.
Lillian, TALBOT Age 57 7 Corton Crossways, Lowestoft Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s, unmarried
Olive Rita THROWER Age 20 Sandy Lane, Gisleham Cook, killed at Waller’s, unmarried
Malvinia WARD Age 58 11 Colman Road, Corton Assistant Cook, killed at Waller’s, unmarried.
Wilfrid George WARDILL Age 50 16 Brantwood Road, Luton. Dental Traveller, killed at No. 102.
Beryl Joan WHITING Age 20 17 Fir Lane, Lowestoft Manageress, unmarried.
Muriel Evelyn Jean WHITLAM Age 20 8 Oakland Terrace, Kessingland Kitchen Hand, killed at Wallers, unmarried.
Elsie Harriet Doreen WINCUP Age 14 2 School Cottages, Carlton Colville Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s
Doris Louisa WOODMAN Age 32 15 Rowington Road, Norwich Married woman, wife of Francis N. Woodman.
Barbara Laura WRIGHT Age 16 16 Worthing Road, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, Killed at Morlings, No. 106.
Gladys May WRIGHT Age 26 55 Wollaston Road, Lowestoft Married woman, wife of Jack F. Wright, recently married.

Service Personnel

JOSEPH BAKER, Age 24, Paymaster Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Son of William John and Maud Annie Baker, of Alford.

ALFORD CEMETERY, LINCOLNSHIRE

LAURA BEATRICE BESSANT, Age 36, Leading Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service

Daughter of Robert F. Bessant and Florence C. Bessant, of 263 Raglan Street, Lowestoft.

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

GEORGE ROBERT BURWOOD, Skipper, Age 34, Royal Naval Reserve

Son of Isaac and Gertrude Burwood; husband of Alice Burwood, of Edinburgh.

ABERDEEN (SPRINGBANK) CEMETERY

IVY WINIFRED CREIGHTON, Age 32, Leading Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service

Daughter of Joseph Creighton and of Emily Elizabeth Creighton, of Staple, Kent

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

SAMUEL CUNNINGHAM, Age 18, Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Hugh and Rachel Cunningham, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

ROBERT HARRY GRIFFITHS, Age 37, Leading Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Mrs. L. A. Griffiths, of Shepherds Bush, London.

HESTON (ST. LEONARD) CHURCHYARD

JAMES NICHOLSON, Age 33, Assistant Cook, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Robert and Margery Nicholson, of Spittall, Berwick-on-Tweed; husband of Eleanor Elizabeth Nicholson.

TWEEDMOUTH CEMETERY

RONALD GEORGE PENFOLD, Stoker 2nd Class, Royal Naval Patrol Service

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

FREDERICK WILLIAM PHILLIPS, Age 18, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Ernest Harold and Edith Alice Phillips, of Romford, Essex.

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

GEORGE SCOTT, Age 28, Stoker, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of William and Margaret Scott, of Leeds, Yorkshire; husband of Amelia Scott, of Leeds.

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

MARY MARGARET IRIS THOMPSON Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service

Daughter of George Ritchie Thompson and Isabella Mary Thompson of Holt, Norfolk.

HOLT BURIAL GROUND

JOHN EDWARD URE, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of William Patrick and Kathleen Ure, of Leeds.

LEEDS ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY

FREDERICK EDWIN WALKER, Age 38 Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy

Son of George Edwin and Mary Jane Walker; husband of Vera Alice Beatrice Walker, of Boscombe, Bournemouth.

PORTSMOUTH (KINGSTON) CEMETERY

ROBERT ALFRED CHARLES WARD, Age 28   Stoker, Royal Naval Reserve

Son of Alfred Smith Ward and Emily Ward, of Cardiff; husband of Jean Ward, of Ardrossan, Ayrshire.

CARDIFF (CATHAYS) CEMETERY

JACK WATSON, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of John Edward and Nellie Watson, of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.

LOWESTOFT CEMETERY

ALEXANDER WEST Leading Seaman, Age 36, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of James and Bessie West, of Gardenstown. Aberdeenshire.

GAMRIE NEW PARISH CHURCHYARD

CYRIL WILLIAMS, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Edward and Sarah Williams, of Cheadle Heath, Stockport.

CHEADLE AND GATLEY CEMETERY

 WILLIAM JOHN BUSBY, Age 24, Private, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment.

Son of George and Margaret E. Busby, of Yardley Wood, Birmingham.

BIRMINGHAM (HANDSWORTH) CEMETERY

ARTHUR GEORGE BROWN, Age 24, Lance Corporal, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Son of Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brown, of Bedford; husband of E. E. Brown.

BEDFORD CEMETERY, BEDFORDSHIRE

FREDERICK WALTER PRATT, Age 20, Private, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Son of Walter Richard and Beatrice Annie Pratt, of Dunstable

DUNSTABLE CEMETERY